It’s that time of the day…
It’s this time of day that I miss home the most. About 6:30pm. I’ve had some food and it’s not time for the radio conferences, where we brief and report on the day’s activity over the radio net. No locals will come to the gate for a ‘walk-in’ to see me, and I have made sure that I have prepared for the next day, as much as I can, at any rate.
It’s time to sit outside in the dying sun. It’s not too hot, about 20-25 degrees, which back home would be high summer midday heat, but out here after the heat of the day it’s cool enough to sit outside the tent, and read a magazine, or even watch a film or an episode of a TV show on the laptop. Some people chat and catch up with each other – telling their stories of the day, or else do a bit of gossiping. Some more industrious people will do their washing to get it on the line for the next days heat to dry it. Most just sit, doze, lie.
It’s the sort of time when, back home on a sunny day, you’d think about stopping off at the pub on the way home for a pint or a glass of wine and lemonade in a beer garden. When you’d do as we do out here – just chill.
In the distance there is the call to prayer of the mosque in the village. The dogs start barking as they are tied up for the night. The sun goes down quickly and the stars come out one by one, and then once the darkness really comes in a million points of light in the sky appear. Even more if you nip and get your Night Vision Goggle to look at them with.
And it’s this time of the day that is bitter-sweet. I enjoy a sit in the evening sun, watching the sun set over the Hesco wall of the camp, reading a magazine, or making notes on the days activities. It’s nice to take 10 or 15 minutes, 30 if you are lucky to chill and relax and mull over the day, or forget it all by watching a film.
But it’s also that time when you wish you could be with the one you love and care about, the one you really want to be with. It’s that time of day when you want to share the setting sun and conversations with the people you hold dearest.
Back at home it’s the busy time of day. There is dinner to be cooked and washed up. Packed lunches for the next day to be prepared, the bins to be taken out, the dog to be walked. The washing to be loaded into the machine.
You want to stand at the kitchen window and watch your daughter run around in the garden chasing butterflies. You want to sit and watch her on her slide and take five minutes to push her on her swing. You want to bath her and put her to bed with a bedtime story; both of yours favourite – the Gruffalo – and you will do all the voices. And kiss her on her forehead as you say ”Goodnight”.
It’s things like flopping on the sofa after a hard day and just vegging in front of the TV. It’s going for a shower or a bath. It’s doing one of many, many simple everyday things that you miss. But most of all, sitting watching the sun go down, you just miss home.
…and then your reverie is broken. You are brought back to the reality of where you are and what you are doing by a shout from the Ops Room, or else someone HAS come to the gate and you need to go and sort out a project. And you remember very quickly that you aren’t at home, you’re still in Afghanistan, and you still have four and a half months to go before you can go home.
But it’s nearly the end of the day, and tomorrow is another day, and when today is over, and when the new day dawns, it’ll be another day nearer going home.